Think Before You Pour

What’s the Problem?

Vegetable oil and animal fats known as FOGS (fats, oils and greases) used in cooking may be liquid after use, but they can harden inside pipes when poured down the sink. This causes blockages in pipes, leading to problems in our households, wastewater systems, and marine environment. The Think before You Pour campaign, operated by An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme in partnership with Irish Water, is aiming to raise public awareness of this problem across Ireland. This campaign is simply asking you to Think Before You Pour fats, oils, and grease down the sink.

More Information on FOGs

What are FOGs?

FOGs stands for fats, oils and grease. FOGs originate from food products such as butter, lard, vegetable oils, animal fats, meats, sauces and dairy products. FOGs are typically generated during the preparation of food containing these products and from associated cleaning/washing up processes.

Why are they important?

When fats, oils and grease are hot and are in liquid form, they pour easily down a drain or sink and appear harmless. However, when FOGs cools, it solidifies and builds up inside the pipes causing serious blockages. Blockages caused by FOGs can result in raw sewage overflowing from sewers into homes, business premises, public areas, streams or rivers causing an environmental and public health hazard. The removal of FOGs is a difficult and expensive process.

What not to pour?

Cooking oils, meat fats, lard, shortening, butter, margarine, sauces, dairy products, food scraps.

Facts on FOGs

1. Even though soap breaks up grease, it loses its effectiveness downstream, allowing grease to solidify on the pipe walls.

2. Running hot tap water will NOT help grease float through the sewer pipe because the water will eventually cool as it flows through the pipe and the grease will become solid again.

3. One European project found that it was possible to collect 2.5 litres of FOG per household per month (

4. It is estimated that 25% of municipal sewage treatment costs can be attributed to the FOG component (Curran, 2015).

5. Through sewer flooding, FOG build-up is indirectly responsible for many cases of property damage and pollution incidents.

6. “Fatbergs” – a term that has been coined over the past decade or so to describe large conglomerations of fat, oil and grease.

7. Used motor oil from a single oil change can pollute up to one million gallons of freshwater if disposed of incorrectly.

Top Tips for Proper FOG Disposal

Can the Grease! Keep an empty metal can and pour oil and grease into the can. Allow grease to cool in the container before throwing it in the bin.

Oil can be used for frying several times over, as long as you filter it between uses (which means straining it to get all the little bits of food out, among other things).

Do use a strainer in the sink and when full empty into the bin.

If you want to keep the oil for reuse, glass jars work well if you are pouring cooled oil into them as they have excellent resealable lids.

If you have large quantities of used cooking oil, you can bring it to approved recycling centres or civic amenity sites.

Control the temperature of deep fat fryers to prevent the oil from scorching and extending its life.

Wipe before washing! For greasy pans, pour off the grease into a container and use a paper towel to wipe out the remaining grease in the pan prior to washing.

Dispose of used motor oil by bringing it in a sealed container to an approved recycling facility.